Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

Title: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1)

Author: Kerri Maniscalco

Genre: Young adult historical mystery

Format: Audiobook

Published: By Hachette Audio on September 20th, 2016

ISBN13: 9780316273497 (US Hardcover edition)

Grade: Acceptable

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Book Review)

Synopsis

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life. Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

Expectation

I went into the book with unrealistic expectations because I had heard only rave reviews of this and its sequel.  I read it as a part of a book club pick and perhaps the negative reviews of the people who read it with me also influenced my opinion.

Reality

This is one of the best examples of when the book was ruined for me because of the hype. The audiobook was a good way to experience the story, in my opinion. The narrator brought the characters to life really well and did a great job overall. Listening also helped smooth out the weak points of the writing, which I thought was not up to the mark or to my taste. The plot was also not as interesting as I expected. I had predicted the killer after about 20% of the book and it didn’t shock me at all as it follows the common formula of most mystery-thrillers. If the characters had had more of a personality, perhaps it could’ve kept me guessing for a while.

My biggest problem, however, was Audrey Rose. She describes herself as intelligent but it wasn’t “shown”. All the sleuthing she did seemed to be a tad too convenient. She constantly reminds the reader that she isn’t bogged down by the patriarchy and how different she is compared to other girls. I remember a tea-party scene where she is obnoxious and considers herself better than all girls present because they are interested in small and inconsequential things. This did not sit well with me at all, so I wouldn’t make the mistake of calling this a feminist book at all.

On the other hand, I really liked Thomas and I’m debating on trying the other books because I do want to read more about him. The relationship between Audrey and Thomas was also quite adorable and I was impressed Thomas’s attitude towards women (for a man from that time period). The other supporting characters didn’t seem fully fleshed out and I had a hard time relating to any of them. The setting was done well and I found myself transported to the dull grey of London in all of its menacing and terrifying glory of that time. I also liked that Audrey had an interest in forensic sciences and that whole part of the book was well-researched and executed. In conclusion, this book definitely has an interesting mix of genres and should have worked well but didn’t.

Recommendations

Readers just getting started with mysteries will probably find this more interesting than I did. For the music, I’d recommend the soundtrack of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban because it has the perfect balance between creepy, mournful and fun, which is what this book aims to be. A cup of hot English tea would go very well as I don’t think the gory details and autopsy reports will help you keep any solid food down for long.

Links

Book: Wordery | Amazon | Goodreads

Author: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Comments

Have you read this book and if so, what are your thoughts on it? Do you have any YA mystery recommendations for me? Let me know in the comments below.

21 thoughts on “Book Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper

  1. I really enjoyed the first book, but I completely agree with you on Audrey Rose. While I found her desire to be treated as an equal regardless of being a woman a refreshingly different voice than most other women in YA literature, I felt she definitely needed to be shown as an intellect instead of just falling on to the intelligence of others around her. And you’re right about the predictability. That bothered me a bit. But I also really enjoyed Thomas’ character as it reminded me of one of my friends and it helped not focus too much on the shortcomings. I haven’t read the second one, but I’ve heard many people say it’s much better than book one. While it doesn’t deserve all of the super hype,I think it was rather decent for what it is. I loved your review. It’s quite marvellous.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, the fact that she was headstrong and brave enough to demand equality in a time when women weren’t allowed any such privilege was definitely an aspect I liked. I was also happy that she had the “a girl can be intelligent as well as want to dress prettily” which challenges the view that wanting to do anything feminine somehow makes a female character ‘weak’.
      I just think it would’ve been better if she didn’t put down other girls of her age though. 😞 I really hope she grows as a character and that her intelligence is portrayed in a better way (more organic than just to serve the plot) in subsequent books.
      I agree with you on Thomas! 😍 He wasn’t likeable at first but he did grow on me and he’s my favourite character now. I also liked that the romance took its time as opposed to insta-love and I think that their relationship is quite healthy considering the time period.
      Thanks for sharing your opinion, Neha! ❤ Perhaps we can try out the next book together? 😅

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes! Thomas annoyed me a bit in the beginning as well, but then grew on me. 😆 I really hope she grows as a character as the series goes on as well. There’s quite a bit of potential to evolve her into a very powerful female character, especially for the genre, and it would flesh out the series much more as a whole too! 🙂 Yeah, I think that’d be fun! Feel free to DM me on Twitter about it if you’d like. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I sort of remember you saying (maybe in a reply to one of my recent comments?) that you thought SJtM was just OK. So I’m not surprised by what I’ve read here. (Nice job with explaining your issues with the story, btw.) But now I know your comments will be echoing in my head when I finally get around to reading the book. *lol* Though I have a feeling these are all critiques I would have had about it anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wanted to get across what I enjoyed and what I think it lacked in the most objective way possible, so thank you for this! ❤ I think I was also influenced by the thoughts of others in the book club I read this with, so I’m really sorry if my review sways you negatively. 🙈 I’d actually rated this 4/5 initially on Goodreads but as I wrote the review I decided to lower it to 3. I really hope you like it more whenever you decide to read it. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We’ll see. I tend to read with a critical eye – which doesn’t necessarily prevent me from enjoying what I read, but if I catch too many things that irk me, then the book might as well run away. XD

        Liked by 1 person

  3. theinkybookworm

    I’m mostly an Agatha Christie type of mystery girl so I might enjoy it still? I would definitely listen to the audiobook if I do end up reading it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you do have the physical copy, I believe it has some original material from the actual Jack the Ripper investigations, which might be interesting to check out. But the audiobook narrator did a great job, so I’d definitely recommend that! ❤
      I’m a classic mystery fangirl too (I’m actually planning to read all of Christie’s Poirot mysteries as a part of a book club), which is why the plot didn’t do much for me. The last mystery I read was And Then There Were None, which had a fantastic plot that kept me guessing till the end! Compared to such beloved books in the mystery genre, this one does disappoint but it’s definitely worth a read. Perhaps you will click with it more than I did! Let me know how it goes if you decide to try it out. 😊

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  4. I keep wondering if I should read this one day. Your review makes me think I shouldn’t. I really dislike protagonists who are anachronistic and “better than” all the other female characters because they flout convention. Really, are you giving it to the patriarchy or just making your tea party hostess and all her guests super uncomfortable by being rude? It’s a question that seems to come up for me a lot when reading YA books set in the past.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, I don’t like reading about that either. I also don’t like it when it’s branded as “feminism” because I don’t agree that feminism is about putting down your peers just because they may be interested in conventionally feminine pursuits. Knowing your reading tastes, I wouldn’t recommend it to you, Krysta.

      Like

  5. Such a great review and I agree with everything you said – especially about the feminist aspects of this book 😐
    I’m not sure if I’ll continue with the series either, probably not because I’m indifferent to most characters and I should care for at least a few of them to keep reading a series.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad we share the same opinions! Maybe I’ll squeeze the sequel in if I find the time but at the moment it’s not on my priority. There are many other better series that I think I’ll enjoy more. 🙂
      BTW, Marta, are we restarting the book club any time soon?

      Like

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